The Ogasawara Islands (also known as the Bonin Islands) are a chain of oceanic islands 1,000 km off the coast of Japan that were created from volcanic activity in the middle of the ocean around 48 million years ago. They are composed of 4 main islands groups that each house a very unique and special assortment of endemic and native biota that are constantly in danger of extinction due to human impact and invasive species. The organisms that inhabit these islands provide a rare opportunity to understand and appreciate the processes of
With the collaborative efforts of Prof. Satoshi Chiba, the administrative staff of the Ogasawara Village, and many more Ogasawara associates, my advisor Prof. Rosemary Gillespie and I were invited to travel to the Ogasawara Islands as special guests to celebrate their 5th year anniversary since becoming the UNESCO World Heritage Site. As part of the trip we participated in three different symposium events held across Hahajima Island, Chichijima Island, and Tokyo and gave a combined English/Japanese talk during each event. We were also able to closely interact with students from both the Hahajima elementary nature club and the Chichijima high school nature club and later gave a lecture at the Hahajima elementary school to the entire student body. Furthermore, we were able to meet many different passionate and absolutely wonderful people from varying conservation and research organizations including the Institute of Boninology, Green Support Staff, Ogasawara Cat Group, Forestry Agency, Ministry of Environment, Tohoku University, Japan Wildlife Research Center, Ogasawara Environmental Planning Laboratory, Tokyo Zoo, Ueno Zoo, and many more.
It was a great honor to be invited to attend this trip with my advisor, meet the many passionate people, and learn more about the wonderful and special place that is the Ogasawara Island. In the future I hope to conduct my own research on the islands in hopes to better understand the natural beauty that lives there and bring awareness to its importance to the world at large. Thank you so much to everyone who welcomed us with open hearts and I hope to continue collaborating in the future to come.